When Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson named rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer the starter heading into the 2017 regular season, he did so, in so many words, vowing to stand by him through thick and thin, through the ups and downs, understanding that, as a 21-year-old raw prospect, there will be growing pains.
It turns out that those pains have been too much to bear, because he has already been benched a couple of times now, and Jackson has said this week that he will wait on naming a starter this time around. Previously, he prematurely benched Kizer in favor of Kevin Hogan, who promptly turned the ball over three times.
That was last Sunday. This Sunday, it was Kizer back under center, and with Hogan ailing, Cody Kessler serving as the rookie’s backup. Kessler, a 2016 third-round draft pick, was the Browns’ primary starter a year ago due to injury, but fell to third this year behind two players with no starting experience.
In Sunday’s loss to the Titans, Jackson pulled Kizer once again, benching him in favor of Kessler after throwing two interceptions to bring his total to 11 on the season in just six games. His backup came in and completed 10 of 19 passes for just 121 yards, adding an interception of his own.
The Browns currently have three quarterbacks on their roster who in this season have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. None of them have a single win in their career in 15 combined starts. Kessler last season, at least, threw six touchdowns to two interceptions.
Said Jackson in light of the situation at quarterback, “we watch the tape and I like to get with the players and talk to them before we make any decision that way”. Unsurprisingly, the sticking point for the second-year Browns head coach was the interceptions.
“We can’t turn the football over”, he said. “That’s going to be my battle cry as the coach and the offensive leader. We can’t turn the ball over, and we have turned it over way too much”.
Whoever the quarterback is under center for the Browns on Sunday, his job will not have gotten any easier. There is literally one thing that every single Browns player who has ever taken a snap under center over the course of the past 10-plus years has been able to count on, and that is no longer there.
I refer of course to left tackle Joe Thomas, who after playing more than 10,000 consecutive snaps over the course of his career from 2007 through the first seven games of this campaign, ended his unparalleled run with a torn tricep muscle that has ended his season.
Thomas, a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer, has been the one beacon of consistency on perhaps quite literally the worst, or at least the least successful, organization in the NFL. Within any particular fan base, he has to be the most popular offensive lineman in the league. And he is popular because he is excellent.
Good luck without him, whoever you are. The Browns’ next game is in London, meaning that the ol’ Factory is now exporting its Sadness across the Atlantic.